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SGLI Improvements Ease Burden on Beneficiaries

By Staff Sgt. Kathleen T. Rhem, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 14, 1999 – Recent changes to the Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance program should ease the burden on beneficiaries immediately following a service member’s death.

Since June 1999, benefits are immediately placed into interest-bearing checking accounts rather than lump-sum checks mailed to beneficiaries, which was the previous practice. Now, beneficiaries receive a checkbook for an Alliance Account set up by Prudential Insurance Co., which runs the program.

“This is important because it relieves the immediacy on the part of the beneficiary to find something to do with that money,” Navy Capt. Elliott Bloxom said during an interview. “It gives the beneficiary, during their time of grief, the opportunity to have that money available, but if they don’t use it right away, it gathers interest for them.”

Bloxom, DoD’s director of compensation, said another change to the program is set to take place shortly.

“Starting in October, when a covered member dies, the beneficiary will be offered free financial assistance for up to a year,” he said.

The firm of Ernst and Young will have financial counselors contact the beneficiary, provide information and work with the beneficiary to develop a detailed step-by-step financial plan, Bloxom said. Both these recent changes also effect the Veterans’ Group Life Insurance program, which is offered to retiring and separating service members as a continuation of the SGLI benefit.

Bloxom said financial counseling could be helpful to everyone. That is why the services provide financial counseling to active duty members and their families.

“This is a continuation of that effort,” he said. “Obviously, anytime a large amount of funds becomes immediately available, we want to make sure our members and their beneficiaries have the widest range of options and educational opportunities available to them so they can make the right choices."

Bloxom said the insurance plan is valuable for a number of reasons. “It has a flat fee; it’s not based on age, not based on health; and it also has no restrictive clauses regarding combat or dangerous duties,” he said.

Bloxom explained that an infantryman, for example, might have a difficult time obtaining a civilian insurance plan because he’s regularly sent in harm’s way. Veteran’s insurance, he said, is valuable because a separating service member remains insurable regardless of health at the time of separation.

Bloxom was quick to point out that these additions to the program come at no increased cost to service members and do not indicate a problem needed to be fixed.

“There are no problems with the SGLI or VGLI programs,” he said. Bloxom explained the changes are merely being implemented to keep pace with practices in civilian insurance companies.

“We continue to work to see that our people are afforded the same opportunity as any other citizen in the country,” he said.

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